Bottle conditioning a sweet sparkling wine?

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Oct 26, 2008
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(I am posting this here because I cannot seem to get any of my posts to show up in the regular winemaking forum section.)

I have 7 gallons of a nice white wine that I have yet to bottle, from this year's harvest. It is fully fermented to dryness.

When I made the wine, before I added the yeast to the must, I collected a gallon of unfermented juice, and canned it in mason jars using a boiling water bath. I want to use this juice to re-sweeten the wine now that it is done.

My goal is to make the wine sparkling, by bottle-conditioning it. For obvious reasons, this could prove to be tricky. I want the yeast to consume enough sugar to carbonate the wine in the bottle, but not so much that the wine flavor drys up and (even worse!) over-pressurizes, making bottle bombs which can be very dangerous.

Here is my theory on how to do this. Please let me know what you think:

1) Open the sweet juice and add yeast to start it fermenting. Once fermentation has started in a day or so, get ready to bottle the wine.

2) Add extra sulfite and sorbate to the finished wine.

3) Add sorbate to the fermenting juice. (Because sorbate doesn't kill yeast, but only prevents them from reproducing, fermentation should continue)

4) Mix together the finished wine and the fermenting wine. (Because there is a critical mass of yeast, they shouldn't be immediately killed by the SO2 concentrations in the finished wine). Bottle and cork.

5) Allow to bottle condition for an hour or two, for carbonation. Refrigerate. Hopefully the cold temperature will force the yeast to flocculate and settle to the bottom.

6) Use the Method Champenoise to remove the yeast deposit. (This an entire post in itself! Does anyone have experience with it?) Slowly turn the bottles upside down while rotating them over the course of several weeks. Once all of the lease have settled in the tip of the bottle neck, freeze the neck only, and remove the frozen yeast deposit, quickly re-corking the bottle to prevent any loss of carbonation.

Hopefully the finished product will be stable enough to store and age at cellar temperature, without a renewed fermentation.

What do you think? Will this work? Will it even carbonate the wine? Or am I just describing a complicated way to land myself in the hospital from exploding bottles?

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Wade, just read this and you put 1 campden tablet per bottle,is this correct
Those are not campden tablets they are sorbate tablets and designed for single bottles!!!! I have never seen these so use the standard amount per gallon and make a solution and divide appropriately.

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